Making the Most of Mealtimes (M3): protocol of a multi-centre cross-sectional study of food intake and its determinants in older adults living in long term care homes
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BACKGROUND: Older adults living in long term care (LTC) homes are nutritionally vulnerable, often consuming insufficient energy, macro- and micronutrients to sustain their health and function. Multiple factors are proposed to influence food intake, yet our understanding of these diverse factors and their interactions are limited. The purpose of this paper is to fully describe the protocol used to examine determinants of food and fluid intake among older adults participating in the Making the Most of Mealtimes (M3) study. METHODS: A conceptual framework that considers multi-level influences on mealtime experience, meal quality and meal access was used to design this multi-site cross-sectional study. Data were collected from 639 participants residing in 32 LTC homes in four Canadian provinces by trained researchers. Food intake was assessed with three-days of weighed food intake (main plate items), as well as estimations of side dishes, beverages and snacks and compared to the Dietary Reference Intake. Resident-level measures included: nutritional status, nutritional risk; disease conditions, medication, and diet prescriptions; oral health exam, signs of swallowing difficulty and olfactory ability; observed eating behaviours, type and number of staff assisting with eating; and food and foodservice satisfaction. Function, cognition, depression and pain were assessed using interRAI LTCF with selected items completed by researchers with care staff. Care staff completed a standardized person-directed care questionnaire. Researchers assessed dining rooms for physical and psychosocial aspects that could influence food intake. Management from each site completed a questionnaire that described the home, menu development, food production, out-sourcing of food, staffing levels, and staff training. Hierarchical regression models, accounting for clustering within province, home and dining room will be used to determine factors independently associated with energy and protein intake, as proxies for intake. Proportions of residents at risk of inadequate diets will also be determined. DISCUSSION: This rigorous and comprehensive data collection in a large and diverse sample will provide, for the first time, the opportunity to consider important modifiable factors associated with poor food intake of residents in LTC. Identification of factors that are independently associated with food intake will help to develop effective interventions that support food intake. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov ID: NCT02800291 , retrospectively registered June 7, 2016.
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